Given retail’s current climate, it goes without saying that the consumer is more empowered than ever. As of 2018, 87% of retail purchases are made online in the UK and in an increasingly saturated market, customers are more likely to look around for the best products and prices to inform their buying decisions.
Equally, awareness of scam websites or fake products has led to a more sceptical archetypal customer, wary of the dangers of online shopping.
When there is the option to buy the same product from two different companies, the trustworthiness of your brand could be the deciding factor between making or losing a sale. Physical stores are an instant indication of credibility, but online things are different. When anyone can set up a website within minutes, its crucial for retailers to proactively showcase their trust signals in order to stand out online. So which trust signals matter? And how can you make sure your business is showcasing them to the best of your ability?
Conduct a full brand audit from the eyes of the consumer
A lot of the initial improvements that can be made to your jewellery business’s branding can be sourced by going back to basics. Evaluate all customer touchpoints from the eyes of the consumer, and detect any factors which may elicit distrust. This could be a lack of information about products, payment or shipping, a cluttered site layout or even spelling mistakes – all of which lack professionalism.
Credibility can be gained through trust badges clearly displayed on your website, such as the SSL certificate symbol or seals of payment security reinforcement. It’s also worth evaluating the aesthetic of your branding and the user experience of your landing pages. Design should be uniform, clean and consistent across all customer touchpoints (website, store, social media etc). Colour should be used to reflect your brand’s image, but bear in mind that it can be damaging to use unusual or flamboyant colours in an attempt to stand out. In terms of trust, colours are most effective when the user believes that the colour chosen suits the brand in question.
Associations with major brands improve credibility
Working with industry leading jewellery brands is a sure-fire way to legitimize your business. The consumer will infer that your business is established and reputable enough to work with household names, which in turn may position your company as a market leader by association. If you are able to secure a deal or multiple deals with major jewellery brands, make sure that the consumer is aware of this from the early stages of their buying journey. Use brand logos on your website banners, navigation menus and content to ensure that these important partnerships are clearly visible to the customer.
As an official stockist of a major brand, it’s important to make sure that your business is listed as a stockist on the brand’s website. In many cases, the supplier will list their stockists onsite – most listed may be physical stores but companies are increasingly willing to include exclusively ecommerce stores too.
Showcase the human side of your company to combat skepticism
Upholding a professional exterior is important for business in many respects, but there is also value in showcasing the people that make your company great. Earlier this year, Google introduced an update that prioritised websites that clearly demonstrate their expertise, authority and trust signals. A business’ story, and the people behind it, is a great way to showcase this expertise and prove that you are a legitimate, trustworthy business.
Building or improving the ‘About Us’ page on your website is a great starting point. Explain who you are, what you do, how you started and what your company values are. The human connection will create emotion and a sense of ease in the customer, who may have initially been wary of the site’s motivations. SME’s will especially benefit from this, as are more likely to have a personable feel to their story.
For independent jewellers or smaller jewellery businesses, trust-signals may not be at the top of your agenda when establishing your business. However, as you become more established this should be a key area of focus for your branding plans. It’s good practice to think about trust signals throughout the customer journey as your business develops and how you can work these into your marketing collateral.
Trust-proofing your brand doesn’t have to be a costly activity, as in most cases it is good practice to be able to back up your marketing with reputable sources. For example, if your branding details that you are diamond experts – what proof do you have to support this? Details such as memberships to trading groups, certifications, founding dates and years of experience are all simple ways to reinforce your trust as a business.
Social media platforms are a great way to reinforce the human feel of your brand and generate genuine customer interactions. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn provide ideal opportunities to showcase behind the scenes content of your business, as well as company news and stories. Buyers are much more likely to trust a business whose origins, values and story are transparent and demonstrable.
Company contact details should be accentuated
Customers are most likely to trust in a company who are easy to get in contact with and it’s easy to see why, according to a KMPG 2017 Global Online Consumer Report. If the consumer asks a question about a product and the reply they receive is slow, unprofessional or nonexistent the company will appear unreliable. Moreover, clear and correct contact details are one of Google’s core values that they use to define a website’s legitimacy.
Make sure that company contact details are clearly presented on every page of the website, and invite customers to get in touch with a call to action which will signal that you are available to help. If you have the means, investing in a strong customer service system and team will also be extremely beneficial to your brand’s image.
In the opinion of many, social proof is the most powerful trust signal for consumers.
Seeing that other people have bought from a certain company provides comfort to the consumer, and signifies that the store is safe to buy from. According to Search Engine Land, 88% of customers read reviews before making their final purchase decision, so do not underestimate the importance of positive customer reviews and a polished customer service experience.
Social proof comes in many different forms, all of which are valuable to pursue for your brand’s credibility. This could include displaying testimonials on site, listing reputable publications who have mentioned your business and encouraging customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page, Trustpilot, or Google listing.
With so much competition on both the high street and online, trust signals are a key for standing out against competitors and reassuring customers to engage in sales. Spending time reevaluating your trust signals will reinforce loyalty with your current customer base and ensure that potential customers trust you with a sale.
Danny Toffel is the founder and director of Watches2U International, the UK’s largest independent retailer of branded watches.